Why You Should Never Delete Your Blog

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Colleen McHugh who runs the OMcHodoy blog has started a discussion about an interesting dilemma at the GeneaBloggers Group on Facebook. She has a blog which has not been updated in quite a long time and it is one which she feels never really garnered much of a following. Colleen thinks it might be a good idea to delete the blog.

To Delete or Not Delete, That Is the Question

The question of whether or not to delete a blog that you’ve started is one which will confront all bloggers eventually including those who blog about genealogy. I’ve had to wrestle with the issue concerning a blog at my personal website Thomas 2.0.

I love writing about technology, especially if I find free web applications that other genealogists might find interesting. But after a few months of starting my blog, I realized that I already had a similar blog with Bootcamp for GeneaBloggers. Granted, Bootcamp started out with a focus for Facebook users, I soon realized there was a need for assistance with Blogger and WordPress platforms: how to add gadgets, how to tweak templates, how to backup blog posts. So what had been Facebook Bootcamp for GeneaBloggers would soon re-branded as Bootcamp for GeneaBloggers.

In addition, I picked up a gig writing technology and genealogy blog posts for Examiner.com and I knew it would be difficult to not only write posts for three technology blogs but also to try and not duplicate the content.

Do You Really Know What You Might Be Deleting?

While platforms like Blogger and WordPress make it fairly easy to delete a blog, and the do caution you to “think it over” before pressing that Delete button, you should go through and review all your posts, pages and especially comments on the blog you want to delete.  Some considerations:

  • What if you had posts where there was some great dialog between you and commenters? Do you realize that you are not only deleting your contributions but also the contributions of your readers who may comments?
  • What about other bloggers and websites which may have linked to your posts? What will their readers encounter (and think) when they click on those links?

Also, search engines like Google and Bing will still pick up your blog and post links to it. Your blog will still have a “web presence” but anyone accessing those links won’t find your content.

Yes there is the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine and even Google’s caching feature but anyone using those services still may not see entire posts. The Wayback Machine will not archive posts in their entirety if you use a “after the jump” or “read more” link on your blog.

The Darker Side of Blog Deletion

Did you realize that when you delete your blog or even give up a domain name, it could be an opportunity for spammers to use that name for their own purposes? Such cases have occurred and once another user, nice or not-so-nice, takes over that blog name the blogging platform is under no obligation to give it back to you.

Think about what it would say about you if your former readers were redirected to a site selling items or worse yet a blog filled with adult content or with content you just plain disagree with?

The Economic Consideration of Maintaining a Stale Blog

Most genealogy bloggers are using Blogger or WordPress with free hosting so there is no real cost of maintaining these blogs. However, several bloggers pay yearly fees for domain name hosting which can really add up. This would be a legitimate reason to shut down a blog but consider these steps before flipping the switch:

  • Would the posts on the blog being deleted be relevant on one of your other blogs? Or on a newly created free blog? Consider exporting the content and then importing it to another blog. You may not be able to keep everything, especially comments, but it will allow you to make your content available to others.
  • Could you still maintain the domain name only (without hosting) and forward it to another blog or website you maintain? Usually the domain name registration costs is a fraction of the yearly hosting charges. If you forward the old domain name you could redirect readers to your new site and perhaps retain them as readers or subscribers.

Redirect Readers from Your Outdated Blog

In my situation, instead of deleting my blog, I opted for this solution: I created a “redirect post” entitled My Content Has Moved which included details as to why I was no longer posting and where they could go to read my latest technology posts.

Not only does this post inform my readers, it also reminds them to update their RSS feeds if they are reading my posts using Google Reader or another aggregator (or to update their favorites/bookmarks in their web browser if that’s how they access blogs).

Also consider removing commenting if you decide to redirect users to your new blog. Doing so will further communicate the blog’s inactive status to your readers and it will also cut down on the spam comments at the old site.

Before You Press the Delete Key

As bloggers we continually evaluate what our content means to us and to others. It is only natural to have self-doubts or to say “no one reads my blog” or “it doesn’t matter if I delete my blog” or “someone else has similar posts and they do a better job at it.” Didn’t you have similar thoughts when you decided to start blogging? I know I did – my main concern was why anyone would want to read what I’ve written.

Realize that your blog and posts may not only have had a bigger impact that you realize, but the content may help researchers in the future. Have you ever found a link on Google only to realize that the site or blog doesn’t exist anymore – and wondered what bit of information might have been available to help you with your genealogy?

This is the problem with deleting any information that we don’t feel is relevant. While it is truly your content which you created, removing it may have much more of an impact than you realize especially for future researchers. If there are no real costs to maintaining the blog, why not let others be the judge as to the value of the information and the content you worked so hard to create?

© 2009, copyright Thomas MacEntee

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FGS 2009 Conference Is One Month Away

FGS 2009

[The following press release was received from fellow genealogy blogger Paula Stuart Warren and highlights the Federation of Genealogical Societies' annual conference in Little Rock, Arkansas from September 2 through September 5, 2009]

In just a month, genealogists from all over the United States and beyond will be getting together in Little Rock for four full days of learning more about genealogy, finding cousins, seeing how much is online, seeing how much is not online, figuring out how to get the most out of records, determining what archives or libraries have the answers, helping your genealogy society, and spending some money in the large Exhibit Hall. Don’t let this event pass you by. The Arkansas Genealogical Society is the host for this event which is the annual conference of the Federation of Genealogical Societies. You will be hearing about this event for years to come and will feel sad if you weren’t a part of it.

Syllabus

The syllabus consists of most of the lecture handouts and each registrant receives it on CD at the Conference. If you wish to receive a paper copy of the syllabus in addition to the syllabus on CD you must order it no later than August 1st. It will also be online before the conference but some prefer to have the full paper copy at the conference. Just order it online at www.FGSConference.org when you register for the conference. If you have already registered, go back to the registration page and add the paper syllabus for $20.00 using the PIN number you received when you registered.

Door prizes

Many of the vendors in the Exhibit Hall will be giving away conference door prizes. Each registrant will receive 20 door prize tickets with your conference name tag and syllabus CD at the registration booth. The ticket will ask for your name, mailing and e-mail addresses and phone number. Bring along some of those address labels you have sitting around or print some up before you leave home to save some writing. Each participating vendor will have a black box labeled for door prizes. Each attendee chooses which door prize box to drop their tickets in depending on the door prize being given. Some will have more than one door prize drawing during the three Exhibit Hall days. The names of the winners will be posted on a bulletin board in the Exhibit Hall. If you are a winner, all you need to do to claim your prize is to revisit the specific vendor’s booth.

Conference sessions to be recorded

Many of the conference sessions will be audio recorded and available for purchase on CD. Listings of those sessions being recorded will be available at the conference. Jamb-Inc. will be doing the recording and will have a booth where you can make your on-site purchases. The CDs will also be available after the conference from Jamb-Inc. but mailing fees will be charged.

Last minute Conference Information

Be sure to read the Conference News Blog during August and even during Conference Week to learn last minute details, reminders, suggested things to bring along, types of clothing to wear, and detail on special items. www.fgsconferenceblog.org. Some exciting special announcements will be made in the next couple of weeks on the blog!

See you at the conference,

Paula Stuart-Warren
National Publicity Chair
2009 FGS/AGS Conference

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OpenLibrary – Genealogy Book Resource

OpenLibrary

Well, like most genealogists I am always on the lookout for a good book resource especially one that can look up keywords and offers full-text search of scanned books.  There is a new resource called OpenLibrary which is still in beta – but you can check it out now!

OpenLibrary is really a very ambitious project: one web page for every book ever published.  Seriously.

They already have close to 24 million in their database and 1 million of those are scanned and can be searched using full text searches.

For example, using my 9th great-grandfather Hugo Freer as my criteria:

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I find there is a book (with which I am already familiar) by Ruth P. Heidgerd:

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But I can also use the fields in the sidebar to find other books such as those by the Huguenot Historical Society.

What else can you do with OpenLibrary?

  • you can add a book if the OpenLibrary does not already have it
  • search for books by keywords and then filter those results by various fields including author, subject, and more

Who’s behind OpenLibrary?  The fine folks from Internet Archive who bring you the Wayback Machine as well as Text Archive which many genealogists already use to access full text searching for scanned books.

It looks like OpenLibrary is worth checking out! (bad pun, I know)

(via makeuseof.com)

© 2009, copyright Thomas MacEntee

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